Diane Abbott condemns “shameful” Labour mug and the policy that goes with it

The controversy over Labour’s “Controls on immigration” mugwhich I wrote about last night, continues. 108 units have been sold since I first looked this morning, netting the party over £500.The goodwill it will have lost Labour is priceless, though.  Seriously, how would you feel if you had gone through hell trying to get into this country, had finally got your visa and been reunited with your spouse whom you hadn’t seen for ages only to be assaulted with headlines demonising immigrants on a  daily basis. How would you feel if you saw someone drinking out of a mug like that?Not very welcome, I can imagine. Maybe a little fearful about what that person thought of you.

Senior MP Diane Abbott is far from impressed. Earlier she tweeted:

Over on LabourList, Maya Goodfellow shares Abbott’s sentiments:

…the public don’t believe Labour when they say they’re going to be tough on immigration. All they hear when the party say immigration needs to be “controlled” is that immigration is a problem, one that Labour are responsible for and incapable of coping with. The party’s pledge fans the flames of anti-immigration sentiment and convinces people to vote for someone else.

This is true when you get down to the details of the policy. So far for the Labour Party  “controlling immigration” comes down to stopping incoming migrants from claiming benefits until they’ve been in the country for two years. This is based on the incorrect assumption that a sizeable proportion of migrants come to the UK to live off the state, when in fact, the overwhelming majority come here to work and contribute to the economy. This policy sends a loud, clear anti-immigration signal, one we should all denounce.

There are more than enough people demonising immigrants in this country. A party that claims  to be progressive should not be adding to that increasingly poisonous atmosphere with its campaign tat.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 9:31pm

    The policy (no benefits for 2 years after arrival in the UK unless you happen to be British) is a mysterious one. As regards EU immigrants and work-related benefits it would appear to be a violation of EU law. As regards non-EU immigrants it is already true in the vast majority of cases (indeed, right through until permanent residence is obtained, which normally takes 10 years)- the major exception being refugees: are Labour really saying they want to deny benefits to refugees? That would be a clear violation of the Refugee convention…

  • John Tracey 29th Mar '15 - 9:43pm

    Immigration is a huge problem, we need to face it. Labour will not face it. The more Labour draw attention to it, the more people will remember their failed policies.

    Personally, I am in favour of people coming here, more is good, but with the state having powers to throw people out that break the law (serious offences, not a parking ticket). But it doesn’t happen, and it winds people up. It winds me up.

  • Max Wilkinson 29th Mar '15 - 10:19pm

    John Tracey,

    Immigration is not a huge problem. It offers huge economic and cultural benefits to the country. The only reason it appears to be a problem is because people keep repeating their opinion that it is a problem.

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 10:19pm

    The state does have powers to throw people out that break the law – called deportation. And it does happen. In fact the coalition has made the process considerably easier by holding deportation appeals after deporting people rather than before.

  • Well, it is a huge problem, Max. It is not because of the immigrants but the lack of planning for school places and in the doctors surgeries. If you tell a voter what you have just put on here, in an area where the need is desperate, then 7% in the polls is a gift we do not deserve.

  • Gosh, two articles on the same ridiculous subject.

    Are you are aware, the series of mugs are related to the pledge card issued by Labour – nothing more, nothing less.

    Are LabourList writing about all the troubles in the LibDem party ?

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 11:01pm

    We’re all voters here John 🙂
    Yes, there is a big need to invest in additional infrastructure (schools, hospitals, roads, houses) to cope with the population increase in recent years (and likely future population increase for some time to come), and we need to recognise that- we also need to think how to properly use those extra resources the extra population is giving us. Currently we’re restricting the civil rights of several hundred thousand people which is almost certainly inefficient. For example social services have to pay for accommodation and subsistence of children who could quite easily be supported if their parents were allowed to work (this is also a waste of social workers’ valuable time). Another example is the amount of money wasted on immigration detention.

  • How high do you want our population to go, Max Wilkinson? 80 million? 100 million? Perhaps we should increase net immigration to 1 million each year, solving all our economic woes, no? Let’s not concern ourselves with the small matter of a shortage of schools, housing, hospitals and the strain on infrastructure.

    Seems you’re only concerned with worshipping the God of GPD i.e. the higher the better. GPD per head – which has decreased under mass immigration – is what matters. Well being and qualify of life must be secondary to you.

  • Immigration must be restricted to the number of people we can integrate and absorb culturally, socially and economically each year. It must be planned so infrastructure is in place first. And it must enhance this country not overwhelm it. All that takes controls which protect prospective migrants as well as the existing population. I love Diane Abbott but she’s wrong in this one. There is not a surplus of jobs overall so allowing non-legal migrants to work deprives someone whose status is not in question access to a job.

  • Alex Sabine 30th Mar '15 - 3:10am

    @ PT
    I agree with you that GDP per head is a better proxy for economic welfare than the absolute level of GDP, which merely tells us the size of the economy. However I’m not aware of evidence that GDP per head has “decreased under mass immigration” – unless you are referring to the period since 2008 when one or two other events like a global banking crisis and the deepest recession since the 1930s might be part of the explanation…?

    Taking the earlier period, on the figures I have (annual growth rates calculated calculated from ONS series IHXW), real GDP per capita rose as follows:

    2002: +2.01%
    2003: +3.83%
    2004: +1.92%
    2005: +2.02%
    2006: +2.34%
    2007: +1.73%

    Now, these figures are not spectacular (with the exception of 2003) but they do represent solid year-on-year growth in GDP per head and certainly not the decrease that you claim. (Obviously the figures for the growth of GDP per head are lower than those for GDP, since the population was growing throughout this period.)

    After dropping sharply in 2008-09, GDP per capita resumed modest growth in 2010 and this began to accelerate last year as the recovery gained momentum.

  • I think the usual approach to immigration is completely backwards. People start by asking “how many immigrants can we tolerate?” and, once that is answered by some arbitrary process, turn to the question “what sort of treatment (typically bad) can we dole out to immigrants that will get us to that number?”

    When the proper thing to do would to first ask “what is the compassionate and humane treatment of immigrants that should be expected of a civilised society?” and then ask “what numbers of immigrants can be handled consistent wtih that treatment?”

  • All this energy expended attacking a mug with a simplistic slogan on it from your political opponents would be better spent either defending or condemning the actions of the Liberal Democrat party over the last 5 years of coalition in bringing in an immigration policy that is both ludicrously stupid and ludicrously ineffective.

  • @David. Absolutely right David, especially when it comes to asylum seekers. For example, we should certainly have welcomed more families from Syria. Yes, this mug looks like something straight out of the UKIP catalogue – apart from the colour!

  • Lester Holloway 30th Mar '15 - 8:27am

    The Lib Dems have a better, more compassionate, immigration policy than Labour but aren’t promoting this from the front in this election campaign. Maybe because the progressive party policy, such as ending unlimited immigration detention, contrasts with a a record in Government that has seen the inhumanity of detention centres and often violent deportations continue?

    In terms of Labour’s mug, yes this is ill-judged but to only focus on this ignores the fact that Labour have a good story to tell on race, with a serious race equality policy and strong pledge by Sadiq Khan to put race equality at the heart of decision-making. The Lib Dems have so far had nothing useful to say on this, despite now having a race equality champion.

    The one good race equality policy the Lib Dems have, which was approved unanimously by party conference, on education and employment has been buried as if the party are ashamed of it. The party have refused to take any of the motions recommendations forward in Government despite a year to do so, and now seeks to exclude it from the manifesto and even the race equality document being drawn up while excluding Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats.

    Meanwhile EMLD gets a load of abuse on a party Facebook forum from other party members for raising this issue in a largely internal way. This really is a disgrace. So I suggest before the party casts stones at Labour it gets its’ own house in order.

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 8:58am

    Lester, forgive my ignorance, but what is this supressed policy of which you speak?

  • Was it really necessary to open another article over ‘a little red mug’? Quoting Dianne Abbott (she of the” one rule for your children’s education and one rule for mine”) is hardly earth shattering….

    In a week where Cameron threw CCH into a tizzy over his future and on a day that Iain Duncan Smith (he of the ‘sexed up’ curriculum vitae) shows his utter contempt for the electorate by stating that “The Conservatives will talk about where £12B axe will fall when the party is ready!” …..What do we get on LDV? Two articles on a mug!

  • Lester Holloway thank you for this insightful post. It’s disappointing that the Lib Dems had such great policies on immigration but that these are now being buried. That smacks of the ‘pandering to UKIP’ that the title of this article accuses Labour of doing.

  • I think that a ‘Keep Calm’ message mug is needed for some.

  • Lester Holloway 30th Mar '15 - 10:12am

    Hi Philip, this is the policy https://www.libdemvoice.org/race-equality-36223.html In 2013 federal conference approved a motion endorsing the policy document of the Race Equality Taskforce, led by Baroness Meral Hussein Ece and of which I was a member. The full report itself was on the conference agenda and circulated to all delegates in the pack. This report took a year to produce, and to date is the only race equality specific policy that I am aware the party has.

    Following a unanimous endorsement of conference delegates – plus every speech from the podium was in favour – meetings took place with LD ministers, SPADs, civil servants and party officials. Nothing happened after that. I am not aware that ANY of the recommendations were taken forward in Government. More recently, after I left the party, I have heard from reliable sources that efforts have been made behind the scenes to not refer to this party policy anywhere in the run up to the general election.

  • A Social LIberal 30th Mar '15 - 12:54pm

    What are people objecting to in reference to the mug, a piece of pottery advertising a Labour policy or the policy itself. I can see why people should identify with the inherent wrongness of denying someone who is working and therefore helping to get our country back on its feet benefits that those lucky enough to have been born here are entitled. But to jump up and down because Labour have put it on a mug is silly.

    If we are objecting to Labours taking away entitlement to benefits until an immigrant has worked in this country for two years, then why. Didn’t Clegg state, in 2014, that

    “Demonstrate that you are committed to the country, that you are a resident and that you are here for a period of time and you are generally taking work and that you are contributing.
    At that particular point… it could be a year, it could be two years, after that, then we will consider you a resident of the UK and be happy to pay you benefits.”.


    Are we not similarly condemning immigrants who have come here to work, have demonstrated that they are willing to work but have lost their job to the same bleak immediate future that Labour would have them suffer? Indeed, apart from our laudable stand on exit checks, the detaining of child immigrants and gloating about having been the government which reduced immigration by a third (although I don’t understand, if we think immigration is good, why we take any comfort from this figure), the above quote seems the most prominent view we Lib Dems have taken on the whole immigration thing.

    The Lib Dem immigration link on google :-


  • Tony Greaves 30th Mar '15 - 1:58pm

    Migration is not a problem. If we want to discourage migration from Eastern Europe we should encourage (and take part in) massive appropriate infrastructure investment there (and indeed in Greece). If we want to discourage migration from Africa for example (legal or otherwise) we should encourage massive appropriate investment there (in public services and indigenous agriculture would be a good start). In specific sectors here we should invest a lot more in education and training of (eg) medical staff and engineers (of all kinds). Etc.

    But migration per se is not a problem. What is a problem is (1) right-wing media hysteria followed by unprincipled politicians and (2) government failure to plan to provide resources for services for people in communities, whoever they are and wherever they come from.


  • Tony Greaves 30th Mar '15 - 1:59pm

    And by the way the Labour campaign is two-faced and despicable. But what do you expect from the Labour Party? It’s in their genes to be two-faced and despicable – and nasty with it.


  • Ukip mugs for sale,.. if anyone has £8.00 spare


    A bit steep,.. if I’m honest, but still,… we are a growing party?

  • Update :
    Just checked with the Ukip Product store about those (frankly awful looking) purple mugs.? They’re looking to put out a Ukip mug with genuine lipstick marks from Diane Abbott. [Downside], Expect to buy at a more *premium* price, .. but [Upside], they will be a *very* limited edition, collector’s item 🙂

  • Alex Sabine 30th Mar '15 - 4:16pm

    @ g
    “an immigration policy that is both ludicrously stupid and ludicrously ineffective”

    It has certainly been “ludicrously ineffective” if the benchmark is the Conservative target of reducing net immigration to below 100,000 per year – missing that by a factor of 3 on the most recent figures. Since I agree that net migration is a ‘stupid’ variable to target, I am neither surprised or perturbed by the failure to hit it – except in as much as the predictable failure to hit an unrealistic target feeds the anti-immigration narrative and is a gift to UKIP.

    What is unclear and highly ambiguous is Labour’s critique: while they criticise immigration policy for being ineffective, and promise to control immigration better, they are rather coy about what effective control would look like. Having (sensibly) renounced numerical caps and not having the legal authority to curb inflows from the EU, they are reduced to a bidding war with the Tories and UKIP on benefit qualification periods and student-union arguments about employer exploitation. As Dan Hodges and others have written, this is patronising to immigrants who do not see themselves as victims of Dickensian exploitation but welcome the opportunity to earn something like the real income of workers in the receiving country rather than the smaller amount they could earn in their home countries.

    Labour seem to be arguing simultaneously that immigrant labour ‘undercuts’ the wages of domestic workers, and that immigrants are exploited by being paid less than domestic workers. This is economically illiterate. If the first proposition is true – I’d contend that it is simplistic, but let’s grant it for the sake of argument – then raising immigrants’ wages would reduce a comparative advantage they have and thereby reduce the demand for their labour and deny them the opportunity to improve their lot by working in the UK. That might be welcomed by domestic workers but it should not be dressed up as helping immigrants; insofar as it was successful, it would work by pricing immigrants out of the workforce. (I’m not sure they would thank a Labour government that did that for ‘protecting them from exploitative employers’.)

    But if the objective is to eliminate wage differentials between migrants and non-migrants and to prevent wages being ‘undercut’, then legislation is a very blunt policy instrument. A more transparent and effective way to tackle wage competition/compression would be to address the underlying economic cause at source: ie to move the supply and demand for labour into a new, higher-wage, equilibrium by reducing the pool of labour (especially unskilled or low-skilled) available to employers in the first place.

    This is the nub of the argument put by UKIP’s economics spokesman Patrick O’Flynn (who has a first-class degree in economics from King’s College, Cambridge, and cites support for his argument on wage compression at the low-skilled end from various eminent economists including Mark Carney, Alan Clarke of Scotiabank, Stephen Nickell of the OBR, and the UCL’s visiting professor Paul Ormerod). I disagree with O’Flynn’s conclusion, partly because I think the evidence of wage compression is mixed, partly because I don’t view questions of economic justice entirely from a UK domestic perspective, and also because I think there are broader economic and cultural advantages of a liberal immigration policy.

    But his position is internally consistent and the policy conclusion that flows from the analysis is actually a lot more logical than Labour’s. Their approach reminds me of the attempt by the Heath government the 1970s to tackle inflation by a battery of administrative controls on prices and wages, while continuing to allow the money supply and credit (the root cause of the inflation) to pump extra demand into the system. It is like trying to plug up an overfilled bath while keeping the taps running.

  • Alex Sabine 30th Mar '15 - 4:26pm

    As I said, I don’t buy the whole argument about wage compression although I do acknowledge that it is stronger than the usual ‘lump of labour’ fallacies about immigrants taking natives’ jobs.

    In terms of economic theory, the basis for it is that large wage disparities between individuals with similar skills living in different parts of the world are a function of the immobility of labour, and this in turn reflects various factors including family and cultural ties, transport costs and – crucially – immigration controls. Therefore removing obstacles to the mobility of labour will tend to lead to a convergence in wages between the richer and poorer parts of the world. This maximises global GDP, reduces global inequality and increases the welfare of the world’s poor – but, other things being equal, may increase wage differentials and inequality within rich countries.

    As I pointed out in another thread, there is plenty of historical evidence to back this up: large-scale migration (which in those days was largely unfettered by government immigration controls) was the single biggest cause of real wage convergence in the 19th century, and freedom of movement in the EU is probably the most radical experiment in returning to that era of labour mobility.

    Returning to the UK experience over the past 10-15 years, there has been a large increase in the supply of unskilled and semi-skilled workers as a result of immigration, and to the extent that this has outstripped the increased demand for such labour, economic theory would suggest that it has placed downward pressure on wage levels. (This does not necessarily mean falling real wages, it could be a stagnation or slower rate of increase than was previously the norm.) Correspondingly, it will have put downward pressure on the cost of the goods we buy and the services we consume, but these benefits do not necessarily accrue to the same people.

    Overall, the empirical evidence from a number of studies by labour market economists does not show a negative impact on average wage rates, unemployment or GDP per head; but several studies do show a small negative impact on wages at the unskilled/semi-skilled end where there has been most direct competition for the available jobs.

    This supports the point that there are distributional implications of immigration which policy-makers need to consider. It is certainly not evidence of the widespread exploitation of immigrants that Labour diagnose: on the contrary, one of the least controversial points about migration is that it benefits the immigrants themselves.

    The thesis that it puts downward pressure on the wages of unskilled domestic workers has more validity, although the magnitude is exaggerated in my view. But if Labour view this as intolerable, and incapable of being addressed by policies to boost the education and skills of the UK-born population, then the only meaningful way of reversing it is to stem the flow of immigration, which in turn means ending EU free movement and (presumably) withdrawing from the EU. Scapegoating employers and patronising immigrants may win applause from Question Time audiences, but it is no substitute for a rational analysis of, and response to, the underlying economics.

  • I never thought that I would see the day that I agree with Diane Abbott.

    Anyway, as always, Tony hits the nail on the head. Ironically, it is the parties most adverse to immigration that are also most adverse to that investment. I would call them ironic, but irony would be an understatement for their extremist policies. Sadly, one of those parties is in Government right now.

    As for the ‘look at schools and GP surgeries. Yes, let us look at schools and GP surgeries: ironically, it is the schools and GP surgeries which are both most used and run in the areas with the highest levels of immigration that are also the most successful by almost all metrics that we use to judge these things. Now, admittedly, the cause and effect relationship here is not a simple one, so it is a simple case of ‘immigration equals good services’, (though many studies have found it to have positive impacts, such as UKBA’s 2011 study that Government made to prove the evils of immigration on public services and then quickly buried once those pesky Civil Servants made a report with the ‘wrong’ findings for May’s agenda).

    However, one thing that is being found is that areas where services, such as schools, are one’s where the Government invests the least, such as seaside towns, and small towns in the South East. These areas also often have some of the lowest levels of immigration. However, immigration is still blamed for their problems. The truth is that Government prioritisation is to blame, but it is easier for politicians to blame immigration (who cannot vote or protest) than themselves.

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Mar '15 - 4:37pm

    Alex Sabine
    Any chance of organising some extra-constitutional coup that makes you Leader of the Liberal Democrats in time for 7 May?
    I jest, of course. No one could survive in practical politics whilst talking such sheer, incessant, unadulterated, good sense…

  • Got to say Alex Sabine,.. that your last two posts were the most valuable, direct and impartial analysis I have seen on these pages for a long time. I had to read them twice to get the ‘juice’ of your points.?
    One small thing I would like to add, that has troubled me for some time with this *immigrant versus British worker* narrative. There is an often outspoken suggestion, that British workers are either too thick or too lazy, to take on the jobs that many from eastern Europe will take on.
    The likes of the hotel trade in (say) Cumbria, say they couldn’t survive without Eastern European workers.
    These are the pay scales for Premier Inn.
    Depending of the position you take, the average pay rate is about £8.00 per hour.
    House prices in Cumbria might average, £250,000 for a 3 bed property.
    House prices in Eastern Europe might average £ 70,000 for a 3 bed property.
    How on earth does a British worker compete (or even survive !), at £8.00/hour, with a young Bosnian girl whose objective is to come to Cumbria for hotel work for 3 or 4 years or so, in order to accumulate a sizable deposit for a house back home, who’s relative value is a quarter of the price?
    No-one is blaming the Bosnian girl for making a perfectly logical life choice,… but here is the real question,…. who (politically), is on the side of the British Cumbrian worker,.. who simply cannot compete, let alone thrive in Cumbria, on £8.00 / hour?

  • @Tony Greaves
    “And by the way the Labour campaign is two-faced and despicable.”

    That’s a perfect description of the Lib Dem response to Labour’s campaign.

    Labour’s nasty/demonising/dog-whistling/(insert inflammatory adjective of choice) election pledge has two parts to it: 1) restrict benefits paid to migrants, and 2) reduce downward pressure on wages caused by “exploitation” of cheap immigrant labour.

    Compare and contrast (or not contrast, as it turns out) with the following quotes, all taken from the Lib Dems’ current immigration policy, adopted last March :-

    “it is also right that we take a sensible approach to burdens that might be put on our benefits system and protect British workers from any ill effects on wages”

    “there are worries that low-skilled migrants are willing to work for less than the minimum wage, leaving local workers at a disadvantage. This is unfair for British citizens and it is unacceptable exploitation of migrant workers.” (Plenty for Alex Sabine to get his teeth in to there!)

    “migration can impose real burdens locally caused by increased pressure on housing, schools and the NHS in areas with substantial migrant communities”

    “A major public concern is that migrants come to the UK purposely to misuse the benefits system which, as a consequence, adds an extra burden onto the UK taxpayer… There are areas in the system that could, and should, be tightened up.”

    “Fairness for British citizens: If economic migrants are to be employed it should be to fill a skills or manpower gap, and not to undercut the wages of British citizens or exploit those who would work at below the minimum wage.”

    And this is all from the Lib Dems’ cuddly new policy which was designed to replace the 2010 policy that Andrew Stunnell memorably likened to something out of 1930s Germany. (Nick Clegg wanted to keep immigrants out of the south east so they wouldn’t take all the water, among other things.)

    Reading all that stuff and the hysterical reactions to Labour’s policy leaves me with the distinct impression that it’s OK for Lib Dems to say such things – but anybody else who does so is some kind of bigot. For there is precious little difference between what the Lib Dems say in their policy papers and what Labour are saying in their pledge.

    Unless, that is, it’s Labour’s use of the medium of ceramics that turns what Andrew Stunnell calls “sensible” proposals into something sinister, in a way that nobody here seems quite able to explain.

  • I don’t know if the post I just wrote will ever escape the clutches of the auto-censor (it must be all the quotations from a Lib Dem policy paper that triggered it), so briefly :-

    @Alex Sabine
    “Labour seem to be arguing simultaneously that immigrant labour ‘undercuts’ the wages of domestic workers, and that immigrants are exploited by being paid less than domestic workers. This is economically illiterate.”

    Amusingly enough, the current Lib Dem immigration policy makes exactly the same arguments :-


    (See pages 9 and 17)

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 10:12pm

    @Stuart Although, as you note the rhetoric in our policy paper can be unfortunate, the paper actually proposes a considerable liberalisation of existing immigration law (and, as an immigration lawyer, I am qualified to make that judgement). I don’t think Labour is proposing anything similar. The ending of indefinite detention is a particularly important proposal- which I believe is due to be particularised as a 28-day limit in our manifesto.
    I would however agree that this particular storm-in-a-mug has probably run its course and we should be focusing on such things as the shameful Tory inability to clarify where their £12bn of welfare curs are going to fall.

  • @Philip Thomas
    “I would however agree that this particular storm-in-a-mug has probably run its course and we should be focusing on such things as the shameful Tory inability to clarify where their £12bn of welfare curs are going to fall.”

    This is the first true social media election. Hence the campaign so far has been dominated by mugs, minibus livery, sibling rivalry… Expect things to get much, much worse.

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 10:38pm

    “welfare cuts” that is!

  • Malcolm: Glad to be of service. I’m self-aware enough to realise that I wouldn’t last long in the role you kindly assign to me 😉

    Stuart: I don’t know if you’ve read many of my previous comments on LDV, but if you have I think you’ll find it hard to nail the charge that I am being unreasonably partisan. I certainly haven’t stinted from criticising the Lib Dems when, from time to time, I have felt they were taking illiberal or otherwise ill-judged positions (in my inevitably subjective judgement).

    But by and large on the subject of immigration I have to say they have been a force for good sense and reason in the face of a pretty relentlessly negative political discourse. Vince Cable (who I have my quarrels with) has been particularly adept in exposing the nonsense of a net migration target and seems to have exerted a moderating influence over nativist Tory inclinations in this sphere. As with civil liberties and the expansion of the surveillance state, this is one area where I have supported the application of the Lib Dem ‘brake’, even if (like Jeremy Browne) I would sometimes like them to step on the throttle a bit more enthusiastically…

    That does not mean Lib Dems have always resisted the temptation to pander to the prevailing anti-immigration mood. Like the previous LDV editor Stephen Tall, I objected to the idea floated by Nick Clegg a couple of years ago of security bonds for immigrants from ‘high-risk’ countries. I criticised the regional work permit system that the party advocated in 2010, although I thought it was brave to put forward the controversial idea of an earned amnesty to deal with the backlog of irregular/illegal immigrants.

    I think where they have faltered is in having the courage of their convictions on immigration and challenging the prevailing consensus more boldly and consistently. They may well have propagated some of the economic fallacies that I have accused Labour of, and which you draw attention to above. In which case I hope they desist. What I do not see from the Lib Dems is systematic evidence of the fault which Dan Hodges rightly lays at the door of the contemporary Labour leadership: talking up the problem, and then failing to offer anything that resembles a commensurate (or even coherent) policy response to it.

    Incidentally, I do not blame Labour politicians for addressing this issue and I appreciate that it is a more difficult subject for many Labour MPs than for the Lib Dems given the prevailing views on immigration in many of the communities they represent. I just wish that more of them would grasp the opportunity to be ‘a voice, not an echo’ amid the cacophony of strident but factually barren and economically Luddite jeremiads.

    On the Lib Dem immigration policy paper, I certainly don’t sign up to everything in there but overall I do echo Philip’s assessment above. As I said in an earlier comment, I don’t have a problem with highlighting the need to enforce the minimum wage. It is the conflation of this with more general claims about the interplay between immigration and wages – and the internal contradictions and gulf between rhetoric and policy response, as I explained above – that I object to.

  • @Malcolm Todd
    “No one could survive in practical politics whilst talking such sheer, incessant, unadulterated, good sense…”

    If you read Alex’s posts carefully, you’ll see that one of his major arguments is that low paid immigrant workers are not being “exploited” so long as they willingly accept the low pay and are being paid more than they would in their own countries. Which sounds like old-fashioned right-wing nonsense to me, but perhaps that’s the direction the Lib Dems will be forced to go in after the election…

    @Alex Sabine
    I’m sure there are a lot of good things in the Lib Dem immigration policy. I just find it interesting that you are willing to refine the good stuff out of a 72-page policy document, while earlier you made a lengthy argument in favour of judging Labour’s immigration policies on a three-word slogan.

  • jedibeeftrix 4th Apr '15 - 4:21pm

    On the subject of harmonious social cohesian, a cautionary tale from Sweden:



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